John Jones and Two Wives, Van Cortlandtville
Photograph by Gray Williams
An important element of the mission of the Westchester County Historical Society is active participation in the protection of Westchester's important historic buildings, districts and landscapes. WCHS strongly encourages the preservation of our historic architectural and scenic heritage.
When the Westchester Preservation League became part of WCHS in 1998, the Society began to speak out on a variety of preservation issues across the county. Our 2003 book, Picturing Our Past, is an important part of this effort, as it tells the story of all of the sites in Westchester County listed in the National Register of Historic Places as of December 2002.
In 2006 the WCHS Preservation Committee began compiling a data base of historic buildings, districts and landscapes that are worthy of preservation. We began with all the County, State and National Register sites listed to date and going forward we will make use of various windshield surveys commissioned by many Westchester communities. In addition, sites suggested by individuals will be evaluated by the WCHS Preservation Committee, and, if deemed worthy, will be added to the list. To make a suggestion or recommendation, please contact WCHS.
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U. S. Department of the Interior. The places on the list are historic and worthy of special recognition. They are not limited to buildings, and include sites as diverse as the Bronx River Parkway Reservation, Playland and the Old Croton Aqueduct. Listing on the National Register provides recognition of a site for its historic value, but does not provide protection from alteration or destruction unless federal funds would be used in that alteration or destruction.
Nominations are usually made by individual owners, neighborhood associations, historical societies or local governments. Some originate at the state level and all must be approved by a state governmental entity-in New York it is the State Historic Preservation Office. Nominations approved at the state level for the New York State Register of Historic Places are forwarded to Washington, DC, for final approval and listing in the National Register.
Every nomination must meet certain criteria—the property must be at least 50 years old, must have historical significance by being associated with important people and events, or have particular architectural significance. The property must have maintained its historical integrity. All listings must have the consent of the owner, or in the case of a district, a majority of the owners.
In addition to the National and State Registers, there is a Westchester County Register of Historic Places. This listing is for places where the historic significance is confined to the County. The criteria is similar to the other registers. All National Register and New York State Register places are listed in the County Register. For more information on the County Register, please contact WCHS.